A couple of excerpts from the Bible (Septuagint, Nova Vulgata, Elizabeth, KJV):

Acts 7:34

ἰδὼν εἰ̃δον τὴν κάκωσιν του̃ λαου̃ μου του̃ ἐν Αἰγύπτω̨ καὶ του̃ στεναγμου̃ αὐτω̃ν ἤκουσα καὶ κατέβην ἐξελέσθαι αὐτούς καὶ νυ̃ν δευ̃ρο ἀποστείλω σε εἰς Αἴγυπτον

videns vidi adflictionem populi mei qui est in Aegypto et gemitum eorum audivi et descendi liberare eos et nunc veni et mittam te in Aegyptum

ви́дя ви́дѣхъ ѡѕлобле́ніе люді́й мои́хъ, ѝже во єгѵ́птѣ, и стена́ніе и́хъ услы́шахъ, и снидо́хъ изъ̑я́ти ѝхъ: и нн҃ѣ грядѝ, послю́ тя во єгѵ́петъ.

I have seen, I have seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning, and am come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send thee into Egypt.

1 Samuel 14:43

καὶ εἰ̃πεν Σαουλ πρὸς Ιωναθαν ἀπάγγειλόν μοι τί πεποίηκας καὶ ἀπήγγειλεν αὐτω̨̃ Ιωναθαν καὶ εἰ̃πεν γευσάμενος ἐγευσάμην ἐν ἄκρω̨ τω̨̃ σκήπτρω̨ τω̨̃ ἐν τη̨̃ χειρί μου βραχὺ μέλι ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ ἀποθνή̨σκω

dixit autem Saul ad Ionathan indica mihi quid feceris et indicavit ei Ionathan et ait gustans gustavi in summitate virgae quae erat in manu mea paululum mellis et ecce ego morior

И речѐ сау́лъ ко іѡнаѳа́ну: возвѣсти́ ми, что̀ сотвори́лъ єсѝ; И возвѣстѝ єму̀ іѡнаѳа́нъ и речѐ: вкуша́я вкуси́хъ ма́лѡ ме́ду ѡмочи́въ коне́цъ жезла̀, и́же въ руку̀ моє́ю, и сѐ, а́зъ умира́ю.

Then Saul said to Jonathan, Tell me what thou hast done. And Jonathan told him, and said, I did but taste a little honey with the end of the rod that was in mine hand, and, lo, I must die.

This is a participle followed or preceded by indicative form of the same verb.

What does this construct mean?

  • Reduplication – bytebuster Jun 24 '15 at 13:12
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    Both sets of passages reflect an original Hebrew idiom (Acts is quoting Ex 3:7) in which the finite form is preceded by an infinitive to lend various sorts of emphasis. – StoneyB on hiatus Jun 24 '15 at 15:14
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    A little googling suggests "infinitive absolute" – StoneyB on hiatus Jun 24 '15 at 15:32
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    @StoneyB: from wikipedia: The infinitive absolute is used for verb focus, like in מות ימות mōth yāmūth (literally "a dying he will die"; figuratively, "he shall indeed/surely die"). I believe that's what you are talking about, right? – Quassnoi Jun 24 '15 at 15:35
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    Ayup. mot = 'to die', yamut = 'he will die'. "He will die the death" we might say. – StoneyB on hiatus Jun 24 '15 at 15:41

This is the grammatical and rhetorical device usually called figura etymologica, but which the ancient grammarians called “derivatio”, where a finite verb (or a participle) is construed with an infinitive (or other nominal derivative) of the same verb. You can find some examples from European authors in Lausberg’s “Elemente der literarischen Rhetorik” par. 281, e.g. from Virgil (voce vocans Hecaten; ire iter) and from Shakespeare (Julius Caesar: most horrid sights seen by the watch; Hamlet: speak the speech).

In Hebrew, Arabic and other Semitic languages the construction finite verb + infinitive is very common and usually serves to strengthen or to specify the action of the verb. Some Hebrew examples have been quoted above. In Arabic (for example) you say ḍaraba-hu ḍarban šadīdan, literally: “he-hit-him (a) hit, (a) hard (one)”; where ḍarban is the accusative of the infinitive of the verb ḍaraba “he hit”; in English you could say “he dealt him a hard blow”, or simply “he hit him hard”, avoiding in both instances the (for English ears) uncouth repetition of the same word in two different meanings.

PS. This is a very good question. I do not understand why some people are trying to close it.


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